Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse, written and illustrated by Torben Kuhlmann first published in the U.S. in 2014 by NorthSouth Books
You may have heard of Charles Lindbergh. You know, the lanky boy from Minnesota who flew solo across the Atlantic in his light-and-lean Spirit of St. Louis back in ’27.
Psh. You want to meet the true hero of flight?
He’s a fellow with a mad hankering for mechanical contraptions who puzzled together the first plane; a small character with a courageous heart, desperate to escape mortal danger by immigrating to America.
His name is Lindbergh. And he’s a mouse.
Haunted by the rapid disappearance of his kind after the dreadful invention of the mechanical mousetrap, Lindbergh seeks transport across the ocean to freedom in the Land of Liberty. Inspired by his relatives the bats, Lindbergh sketches and experiments, gathers gears and gizmos, builds, tests, crashes, and finally soars into the clouds in his minute craft — just in the nick of time!
What deadly enemy is pursuing him? What models of flying machines does he test before his final success? How is this bright-eyed fellow the inspiration for another Lindbergh who flew to acclaim years later? You’ll have to read it for yourself.
Torben Kuhlmann is a recent university grad from Hamburg, Germany, and this magnificently illustrated story is his debut book. The story is a slim treat for kids ages 6 and up, especially for adventure-lovers, tinkerers, and those in love with flight.
But the illustrations are the stunners here. Oh my goodness! The gleam of burnished brass in a spillage of toothy gears, the tawny feathers and well-groomed fur, atmospheric fog and moonlight, nostalgic shipyards and flight-goggles and newsboys, engulf us in Lindbergh’s world from the viewpoint of a mouse. Full, two-page, wordless spreads of wonder, mix with vintage scrapbook pages of sepia photos, all fleshing out the setting and motion of the story. Kuhlmann’s work reminds me of Bagram Ibatoulline’s Matchbox Diary in his supreme attention to detail, gorgeous atmosphere, striking use of light, and use of sepia.
It’s a nice, hefty book, sparse in story, saturated in illustration, with a delightful foreword from the curator of the real Spirit of St. Louis in the Smithsonian, and a teeny history of flight to conclude.